I wrote this last year working my way through the Enneagram. However, after really diving into it I’m realizing many more things about myself that have made quite an impact on me.
One of these things that became apparent very early on is my repulsion to being controlled. When I was younger, I wasn’t aware of this but in hindsight it’s almost humorous at how apparent this was. After high school I could not keep a job. I would quit after a few shifts as soon as there was something better to do. I haven’t worked a job since I was seventeen. The idea of someone creating a schedule for me and telling me what to do for any amount of time was sickening to me.
A more indirect way that I have avoided control is by ensuring that I never meet someone’s expectations on me if they don’t line up with something that I care about. Things like fashion, cool products and expected responses all are things I feel are (society’s?) ways of controlling me. So in order to feel free, I refuse to abide by those rules.
Since I was quite young I was always good at self-discipline. If I want to be restrained it needs to come from me and me alone. Practicing fasting was normal for me in high school. I was good at setting for myself goals and meeting them. If someone else sets a goal for me though? I would actually do the opposite. I can’t tell you how many books I read through high school that were not mandatory for classes. Also, every time I was given something to read or do by a teacher, I would take the easiest possible route to get the assignment done. I wouldn’t read the books they told me to read and I would always ask to do my version or my own ideas of projects for school.
This constant fleeing from control, or perceived control, ended up leaving me without much stability. I was always on the go, reacting against any inkling that I might be restrained or held back. The weird part is that I don’t even feel like I’m being held back from anything in particular, it’s just this general feeling of restraint from anyone or anything else that I revolt against.
I am blessed to have roots in Sarnia with an incredible community, businesses and history. Without me really striving for it, I do manage to maintain some resemblance of stability.
A few years ago I read through Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s book The Wisdom of Stability and I was continually struck at the truth of what I was reading while simultaneously feeling daunted by how hard this would be to achieve. While I have stability in my city, I don’t have it in my life. Refusing to be controlled has made me unstable and had me constantly wiggling free from anything that felt like it had a hold on me. So I have this conflicting longing for stability while at the same time not allowing myself to be bound by anything that would bring it.
Anything that does give me stability has happened in a sneaky way. I didn’t really see it coming. It always comes in a form of a relationship. Whether that be to a community, a person or a cause. I don’t feel controlled in a relationship, or by commitment to something or someone. There might be particular circumstances where I feel controlled within it, but never by the whole.
What I am learning about myself is that I don’t like to be controlled but I seem to respond well to being anchored. Being anchored to people and places gives me stability and limits all my reactions and ambitions to be restrained within the context of those commitments. For those that are like me, and do not like to be controlled and don’t have the luxury of being in commitments, I am unsure where you find stability at all?
I have not been able to shake the fear of being controlled. Thankfully, I have been able to sedate it in a way by being anchored into a place and my community.
Without roots of love, we easily become slaves to our own desires, using the place where we happen to be as a staging ground for our ambitions and manipulating the people around us so they might serve our objectives.
– Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove